Raised expectations lead to Lotus disappointment

The Lotus team refused to be too downbeat despite seeing their drivers hampered by technical problems at yesterday's Malaysian Grand Prix. Both of the Hingham-based outfit's cars crossed the line at the Sepang circuit, with Jarno Trulli in 17th and Heikki Kovalainen unclassified, 10 laps down at the flag.

The Lotus team refused to be too downbeat despite seeing their drivers hampered by technical problems at yesterday's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Both of the Hingham-based outfit's cars crossed the line at the Sepang circuit, with Jarno Trulli in 17th and Heikki Kovalainen unclassified, 10 laps down at the flag.

Kovalainen, who started in 15th after an excellent qualifying session, was caught in a tussle with Lucas di Grassi which caused a left rear puncture, leading to a quick pit stop on lap 12. Twenty laps in he had to pit again with a hydraulics issue, but he returned to the track to complete the race.

Kovalainen said: 'It was still a very positive race for us, despite the issues. My start wasn't fantastic and it meant I dropped immediately to the back. After that I got into a good rhythm, but started to see some issues on the dash. I tried to make a move on Di Grassi, but clipped his front wing when I was going past.


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'Even with the problems we had the car was competitive. Compared to the other new teams our times are very competitive indeed, so I'm not going to let this race trouble me - we learned a lot and now we'll move on and look ahead to China.'

Trulli, in 18th position at the start, was in an early tangle with Timo Glock, but he managed to push through, to finish in 17th place.

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'We made a good start, but then on the second lap I was hit by Glock, which made me spin, and from then on my race was compromised,' he said. 'Despite that I got the car home and that shows our focus on reliability has been worth the effort.'

Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer, said: 'The beauty of sport is that you have high and lows, and after the high of yesterday, with Heikki in qualifying, it was a bit of a low today.

'Jarno had some handling problems due to damaged bodywork at the rear, and did a great job to bring the car home. With Heikki, he had some very high temperatures which we managed to fix in the pit, and as soon as he was out again he was very competitive.

'So it was disappointing, but at least we managed to get two cars to the flag.'

Team principal Tony Fernandes added: 'It was good to get two finishes; obviously we're unhappy with the position, but as we've always said it's a major achievement just to finish. And we did - as you could see later Heikki's car had good pace, so that's encouraging.

'We take a lot away from this weekend, and we'll take everything we have learned with us to China, and from Barcelona we'll be looking to build on the very solid start to the season.'

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